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Insights from the National Child Development Study 1958: Vicki Bolton, Jane Parry and Katherine Brookfield designing research instruments, data triangulation.

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Presentation on theme: "Insights from the National Child Development Study 1958: Vicki Bolton, Jane Parry and Katherine Brookfield designing research instruments, data triangulation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Insights from the National Child Development Study 1958: Vicki Bolton, Jane Parry and Katherine Brookfield designing research instruments, data triangulation and participation in longitudinal studies

2 Introduction ESRC-funded project ‘Social participation’ in the National Child Development Study – 1958 British birth cohort Data collected (to date) in 8 waves: 1st wave 1958 (n = approx. 17,000) 8th wave 2008 (n = approx. 9,800) Qualitative data collected c (n=220) from which we sampled 50.

3 Our qualitative sample 20 perennial participants - ‘joined in’ with activities / groups at each wave of the NCDS 21 non-participants - never ‘joined in’ 8 frequent participants - volunteered at least once a week or ‘joined in’ with the activities of at least 3 organisations a week at age 50 1 ‘unemployed’ individual

4 Structure The design of research instruments in longitudinal research: stick or twist? Interpreting the research agenda: the insights of data triangulation for linguistic tensions Growing up as a participant in the NCDS and the evolving nature of participation in a longitudinal study

5 Stability Cohort with longitudinally linked records Emphasis on health Socio-demographic details recorded Participation as membership Volunteering as leisure

6 Change Evolving purpose Evolving socio-demographic measures ‘Fashionable topics’: volunteering may be one of these

7 The Future (2013)

8 Did our datasets tell different stories about the same people? Divergence strongest for non- participants; Broad accuracy about frequent & perennials’ participation. Differences in terms of: no.of affiliated organisations; recognition of political/union activity; Influence of religion.

9 Why do the qualitative and quantitative datasets tell different stories for some people? Effect of life events and transitions; NCDS privileges ‘joining in’ over a broader organisational involvement; Qualitative interviews pick up (or don’t pick up) particular narratives of participation.

10 Different wording of the research instruments on participation: Quantitative (NCDS) Asked whether participants had ever been a member or were currently a member of a range of organisations: political party, trade union, environmental group, parents’/school association, tenants/residents’ group or Neighbourhood Watch, religious Group or church organisation, voluntary service group, other community or civic group, social club/ working men’s club, sports club, Women’s Institute/ Townswomen’s Guild, women’s group/ feminist organisation, professional organisation, pensioners’ group organisation, Scouts/Guides organisation, any other organisation Probed on frequency of involvement. Qualitative (SPIS) Detailed probing on time use over the past week, including reasons for involvement Specific questioning on a smaller range of organisations, but using a looser definition of involvement? (not all followed up) – Do you belong to any organised clubs or have any formal associations – for example do you attend a church or evening classes, or are you a member of a political party, sports club or musical group? – Do you do any voluntary or charitable work? Probe on reasons for changes in involvement over the years.

11 Growing up as a participant in the NCDS Changing (and variable) attitudes and experiences

12 “The way I look at it is that, if you’re helping future generations, it’s worthwhile doing, you know, so that’s the way I would look at it. And the fact that you give us information back, and you tend to read it and think, well yeah, you know, all that work that you’ve done, or help or whatever, it’s been worthwhile, you know” (David, NCDS Cohort) “it made me feel singled out in a positive way. So I was quite proud of myself that I could get out of class to do the special things” (Mary, NCDS Cohort) “I’m sure at one point getting called out of the class to go and answer a few questions and thinking, oh this is a bit strange, you know, what’s going on, always felt, so from that point of view, kind of remember that ” (Alison, NCDS Cohort)

13 “it’s like having an MOT, I mean you’d […] pay good money to go to a hospital and have that done” (Cathy, NCDS Cohort) “poked and prodded and then having to fill in all these strange tests and things when I was really young” (Joseph, NCDS Cohort) “they were very personal about money and finances and how much we earned and I just felt, well, what’s that got to do with--, you know” (Donna, NCDS Cohort)

14 Information to participants Information collected on / from participants e.g.: Taken from the Bristol Social Adjustment Guide, completed by teachers when cohort members were age 11: “In contacts with teacher, is like a suspicious animal” From subject to participant Changing nature of the NCDS (and longitudinal research)

15 Conclusions The overall picture from this important and well- used cohort study is of stability. Health questions are detailed but social analysis may be rather broad. Differences in the wording and ordering of research questions have significant effects on the information obtained on participation. The participant experience in longitudinal research is varied and changeable.


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